Howard Provides the Difference

Posted by Amanda Orr, Wed, August 26, 2009 11:11 PM | Comments: 92
2009 Recaps, Posts

For some reason, Ryan Howard can’t hit at PNC Park.  Entering tonight’s game, the slugger batted .167 there.  His average may not have raised much, but he provided the biggest, and most important hit of the night.

Chase Utley’s solo home run in the first inning immediately put the Phillies on the board.  The Phillies have homered in the first inning in four consecutive games.  It was awhile before another run would cross the plate.

Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing.  He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.  He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter.  He managed to escaped the jams without problems.  Paul Maholm pitched just as well.  In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits.  He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times.

With a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, the Phillies would have liked to add on.  With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Pirates wiggled out of a potential big inning.  Joel Hanrahan struck out Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz.  He intentionally walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to get to a slumping Matt Stairs.  Stairs was ahead 3-0, but Hanrahan fought back, getting Stairs to ground out.

Brad Lidge received the day off since he pitched in four straight games.  Ryan Madson took over, and struck out Steve Pearce to start the inning, topping at 99 mph.  A sign of relief?  Not so much.  The next batter, Brandon Moss, homered to center field, tying the game at one.  For the second day in a row, the Phillies blew a save to the Pirates.

Unlike Lidge, Madson was able to keep the game tied and give the bats, which were silent all night, a chance in the tenth.

Jimmy Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled.  With Rollins at third, Utley hit a fly ball to center, deep enough for Rollins to score.  Holding up at third, Rollins didn’t take a chance. On the very first pitch to Ryan Howard, Rollins trotted home.  Howard hit a towering drive to right field; a three-run go-ahead home run.

Madson came back out for the bottom of the tenth.  He allowed a lead-off single, but Chase Utley ended the game by turning a fantastic double play on a ball that deflected off the mound.

The game moved along quickly as Maholm and Hamels took part in a pitchers’ duel.  But it was Ryan Howard who provided the difference in the Phillies 4-1 win over the Pirates.

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  • Posts: 0 Kramer

    Nice game. Howard is heating up. I say Chan Ho should be the Closer until Myers is 100%. Let Lidge sit for the rest of the year. I just don’t trust him at all, and especially in the big spots.

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    Where is Andrew to comment on this? No where to be found I see. Like I said, Howard can, has and WILL get it done when you need him. Werth got a hit in the 9th, although typical failure to hit him in, then in the 10th Howard. NICE! Madson though. whether you sayd unlike lidge or not (trust me I am NOT defending Lidge. I believe that is his 5th blown save in what his 10th opportunity. I dont want either one to be the close right now.

  • Posts: 0 Michael

    madson proved he can NOT handle the job of the closer this evening. maybe using park as a closer could be a good idea..yet on the flip side, it could just be a total phillies phail. it would have been nice to see cole pitch a CG though, could have boosted his confidence, but his pitch count was just WAAAY too high. at least i can rest well this evening. braves lost, marlins win.

  • Posts: 0 mikemike

    Myers 5 strikeouts in two innings at Reading tonight, he is ready.

  • Posts: 0 Jay

    I think they should change the rules so that a pitcher who blows a save cannot also be credited with the win if the starting pitcher throws a “quality start”

  • Posts: 0 marty

    get Brett in pinstripes NOW!

    he’s got that rock star mind set and he is hitting the mid 90′s and with that sick curve of his… he should close

    Maddog, while his stuff is great…has blown 5 saves in 9 chances… so he obviously cant do it.

    and Lidge really shouldnt see the field again this year, but you know that won’t happen

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Whew! Howard and his power saved the day. In watching this game, I thought it be the same old story of the Phillies’ futility with RISP..one BLOWN RISP chance after another. Again they blew a chance in the 9th inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and couldn’t scored. They went 1 for 9 (Howard’s HR is the one hit) and combined with last night’s 2 for 14, that’s a horrible 3 for 23 with RISP for the Pittsburgh series.

    We can be thankful for Howard’s big bomb in preventing those BLOWN RISP chances to come back to haunt the team as it did in the first game of the series.

    Madson should polish and carry Howard’s bats for him. (chuckles)

  • Posts: 0 Mike D.

    Madson needs to change back to number 63. He was most dominant then.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Do you realize when Lidge allows the leadoff guy to get on his ERA is at 14. When he get the first guy out its under 4. Thats amazing. Its all mental with him. I was shocked he had the year last year. After he melted against the Cardinals. He is not a very good closer. Either is Madson. Let Myers take over. He has so many pitches he can get guys out on. He will be hungry for a contract. If he does the job sign him as your closer and get rid of Lidge.

  • Posts: 0 george

    yea madson showed he’s not a closer and cholly should not use him closer situations again…myers looks to be near ready he pitches 2 inning with 5 k’s in his rehab game…the phils need to just shut lidge down for the rest of this season because this is beyond a lost year for him if things were gonna turn around it would of happened by now.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff Y.

    I can’t imaging sitting through a post season with Lidge on the mound in the 9th. Howard is the man!! Is it me or the two pathetic at bats last night were Pedro Feliz with guys on 2nd and 3rd, and Matt Stairs with the bases loaded with a 3-0 count.

  • Posts: 0 CTPhilsFan

    Madson may have blown the save, but at least he didn’t lose the game…that’s an improvement!! As if Lidge’s 9 blown saves aren’t enough, what compounds it is that he lost 6 of those games…didn’t even give them a chance to come back the next inning, like last night….still, 5 blown by Madson in 9 chances makes me nervous, too….I’m ready for Meyers to take over the 9th inning.

  • Posts: 0 Dhall

    Thanks to Howard for bailing out the PHillies 3rd base coach. Rollins should have tug up and scored on that ball. I was irate that he wasn’t sent. It’s a moot point now, but worth mentioning.

  • Posts: 0 Papa Thompson

    I think we’re jumping the gun on Myers a little bit because he’s got more rehab work ahead of him (and could get hit with another frying pan before it’s over).

    That said, he clearly looks like the best choice to close.

    He used to scare the bejezus out of me when he closed in ’07, but his numbers are pretty good …. way better than any other option we have.

    It’s pretty pathetic that things have gotten to this point with Lidge. While he’s had good outings on occasion, he hasn’t been reliable at all this year. And nobody bothered to come up with a backup plan just in case it turned out Lidge wouldn’t “be just fine down the stretch,” as everybody promised he would. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of closer help out there via trade, but I think the Phillies put too much blind faith in Lidge turning things around. He didn’t give much reason for optimism.

    The option of even having Myers has kind of fallen into the Phillies’ laps, and they’re lucky for that.

  • Posts: 0 Papa Thompson

    Dhall .. I think that’s Rollins’ decision all the way – be mad at him.

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    Yeah we have a major closer problem but I think Myers will be able to step in and take that role if Cholly lets him. He seems to have his heart set on Lidge and Madson.

    But one thing to look at about last nights game is that Cole pitched great. Maybe this is his start to come back to the 2008 Cole.

  • Posts: 0 theprez98

    CHP ftw!

  • Posts: 0 Chutley

    I think Madson did a fairly good job. Aside from one pitch. Unlike Lidge Madson recorded outs. I wouldn’t give up on Madson just yet. Lidge gives up too many base hits. Madson had one bad batter. Aside from that he was awesome

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Sigh, we still have the problem: Going into the post season, there will be plenty of close games heading into the 9th and we all know it. Who is going to keep it close or better yet, shut the door?
    Howard will give us the ride we need into the playoffs but from that point on, we need the team to step up big – last year was incredible but it is over with. This year the problems we face are greater than the one’s we had last year. In the Post Season, we cannot count on big bats always – we have to rely on key pitching.
    I like one of the posts I read the other day, “Close by committee” – Lidge, Eyre, Park and Meyers – between the 4 of them I think our chances are better than average.

  • [...] Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr provides a recap of the Phils’ extra-inning win: Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing.  He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.  He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter.  He managed to escaped the jams without problems.  Paul Maholm pitched just as well.  In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits.  He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times. [...]

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    “Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing. He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.”

    9 baserunners in 8 innings is pretty damn good (a Happ-Lee-like 1.15 WHIP). I liked that Hamels didn’t freak out and let the Pirates have a big inning.

  • Posts: 0 george

    I will bet Maunuel was chomping at the bit to get his buddy Lidge out to close last night but I bet he got a murderous look from the players in the dugout: “don’t you freakin dare”. It’s a shame Hamels pitches a great game and then the talentless Madson blows it and gets the win that belonged to Hamels. The starters must really hate the bull pen. You can thank Manuel for that, letting his bud Lidge in to close whether he has his stuff or not. Lidge first over the team. Lidge first over a repeat for a world series. Screw the fans, Lidge first. Does Lidge have something over Manuel? Did he witness something? Why would you go against all baseball sense and put that worthless jerk in time after time at ht eexpense of team morale and really lessen your chances as a repeat. You may not win the Division if Florida or Atlanta get hot

  • Posts: 0 Bonezy

    Ok, this talk about the closer role has got to stop. Let’s face it, nobody in our pen is cut out for this right now. Lidge is about as good as anyone in that role on our team. This problem is not going to be solved until the ofseason. So my advice is to do what I do every single close game. Close your eyes and white knuckle something until the game is over, and hope that we get it done.

  • Posts: 0 Mark B

    22 games over .500, and that’s with 13 or 14 blown saves by Lidge + Madson. Imagine what the Phillies’ record could be, if the 2009 version of Lidge was as good as the 2008 version.

  • Posts: 0 phils_ftw

    “I will bet Maunuel was chomping at the bit to get his buddy Lidge out to close last night but I bet he got a murderous look from the players in the dugout: “don’t you freakin dare”

    Rightly so, you don’t put a reliever out there for the 5th consecutive day, for god sake they’re human they need REST.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Aside from one pitch in the ninth, Madson actually pitched very well. To call him “talentless” as one poster (george, to be exact) has mentioned is just plain ridiculous. And to further suggest that Lidge has “something over Manuel” is even more silly.

    And what’s so wrong about being 22 games OVER .500. Geez……we have a S E V E N game lead in the division and we ARE 22 games over .500. People on here need to relax a bit and just appreciate what we DO have and what kind of season this HAS been.

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    The chickens haven’t hatched but the shell is cracked. If the Phils play .500 ball the rest of the way, the Marlins would need to play .700 to catch the Phils. Possible but highly unlikely with so few games left.

    The more I think about it, the more I think Myers will push Lidge as closer one way or the other. Myers wants to be the rock star.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    People are getting too worked up over this Lidge thing…

    Here is the reality as confirmed by RAJ: LIDGE IS THE CLOSER

    It’s mental… the more we nit pick, the less effective he is. As a fan, I’m going to stand behind him because he has the velocity and he has the dominant slider and prior to the fourth-day blown save, he was starting to get his command back (he looked healthy). The game is unfair… the difference between perfection and implosion is often an inch or two in either direction. I think that Lidge is the best that we’ve got…. and we’ve got him for two more years. We have all witnessed this fact: a healthy and confident Lidge is among the best in the game. I’m not against putting Myers in there if he keeps doing what he’s doing but he’s got a long way to go and until he reaches that point, and as long as we maintain a healthy lead within the division, there is no reason to get our panties in a bunch. It is disheartening to think about what our record could look like but what’s the point of doing that? We have a seven game lead heading into September and that’s pretty damn good. I say, rather than do something crazy to win meaningless regular season games, let’s try to build this team to be the best that it can be in the postseason. A closer by committee might get us an extra win or two now but a healthy Brad Lidge is the best option for this team in October.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    EXACTLY…..Original Chuck P…..EXACTLY

    People need to understand that it’s a long, long season and A LOT can happen within the course of that season. We have a seven game lead, the bats are popping much better than before, starting pitching has been GREAT….Hamels was good last night!!…..we are gonna be fine…

    Lidge is a problem, no doubt…BUT…this game IS a game of inches and breaks and bounces. With the proper rest and usage, Lidge could and probably will be effective enough down the stretch and in the playoffs. Mix in the “closer by committee” thing once in awhile….such as having Lidge get a 1 or 2 out save….and it can work.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    How many times do they have to repeatedly say hes the closer? They are NOT going to take the job away from him. EVEN IF they somehow landed Hoffman, they would STILL have Lidge as the primary closer.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Somehow I think if the Phillies landed Trevor Hoffman, HE (Trevor Hoffman) would be the closer. But there is probably a better chance of So Taguchi coming back to the team so it’s really a moot point.

  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    I don’t think Lidge can be as effective as we need him to be in the post season THE WAY HE IS NOW. His self confidence is very low, and he needs to have faith in himself before he can be the closer we all know he can be. The rest of the team knows this as well, so if he doesn’t regain that “lights out” mentality before the playoffs, I don’t think you just throw him out there in the 9th because “he’s our closer”. That would be counter-productive for everyone, so he needs to be straightened out before the end of the regular season. This should have been addressed waaaayyy before now, it’s been apparent since early on that he wasn’t himself.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Again….it’s a game of inches….and those inches are affecting him mentally right now.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    I am also concerned about Raul. He is not hitting at all. We will need him against teams like the Rockies, Dodgers, any AL we might face in the big one.

  • Posts: 0 Britt35

    Cole AND Madson did fine. It would’ve helped Cole out a little more if the rest of the team would’ve gotten more runs, so he would have a little more under his belt, but he did better then he’s been. Congrats to Chase and Ryan for bringing in the only runs of the game.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    It is a long season, but it’s almost over and Lidge isn’t getting any better. We really don’t have a closer at the moment. Lidge is forced to groove his fastball because he’s missing by more than inches. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s just not useful on day 4 of 4 days in a row so that one is on Charlie. IMO, Lidge has until Myers is ready to get it done.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Yeah….getting runs key spots was tough again last night. The 8th inning should have produced AT LEAST one run and it didn’t.. Matt Stairs swung at ball 4. It’s tough to watch him struggle like that right now..

    Hamels was good. I was impressed. And Madson was fine except for one pitch.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I was close …

    “Don M Says:
    August 26th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    I think Hamels gets nasty tonight.. like 8 Innings, 1 Earned Run.. 10 Ks


    Something that I thought was crucial last night, and Wheels touched on it in the 8th. That Hamels and Ruiz were on the same page last night.. He was working quickly, getting the ball, getting the sign, and throwing.

    He was also working both sides of the plate WAY more than he ever has before.. I think both of those things are direct influence of Cliff Lee

    and Hamels looked great last night!

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Hamels did look good last night. The starters are coming through again.

  • Posts: 0 DAVE

    Anyone see Hamels’ postgame comments? He literally asked rhetorically “Why should I try to get better or expect more of myself?” Now he was saying this in reference to a focus on not pressing to much when things aren’t going well but man that is the worst quote to hear from an athlete.

    Couple that with the admission at the beginning of the year that he just didn’t work that hard this offseason, and I just can’t see this guy making the jump from a really good pitcher who had one unbelieveable postseason to a legend on the level of Carlton or other HOF-ers.

    i.e. You will never, ever hear a quote like that from truly elite athletes like Tiger, Federer, Phelps, Usain Bolt, anyone who truly is great you will never hear them rest on their laurels like that. I think it’s a real red flag.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Don…I was thinking of your prediction as I was watching Hamels’ performance. He DID look real sharp. Yeah, and I picked up on Wheeler’s comment as well. THAT’S really important moving forward….having the pitcher and catcher on the same page.

    A lot of people seem to dislike Chris Wheeler for some reason, but, if you listen to him, you can really pick up on some stuff that makes a lot of sense….seemingly little things that are actually VERY important and crucial..

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    You’re absolutely right, Georgie… if Brad can’t get it right, we can’t rely on him in the playoffs. You can’t hope that he can turn it around and the Phillies get that… he has two to three weeks remaining to figure it out. I do think that he took steps forward last week… 3 out of 4 opportunities in four days.

    I also agree that the Phillies have mismanaged this issue since day one and this should be a non-issue by now. He should have been left on the DL… he should have spent more time in the minors and his role upon return should have been less intensive. Initially, I liked how it appeared as though they were going to work him into easy and less-than-three-out saves (using Eyre/Madson for lefties/righties if/when possible and bringing in Lidge for the final one or two outs). I don’t understand why, all of the sudden, they decided that he was ready to pitch four days in a row. Of course, he’s going to tell you that he’s ready to go… that’s the reason that we’re in this mess!!! If anyone watched The Pen, it was easy to see that Brad rushed himself back to the bigs. I’ve never seen anyone more impatient… the Phillies should have taken their time with the situation but they’ve been impatient at every turn and this is the outcome that they’ve attained. They’re up against a wall… I’m hopeful that he can get it done. There’s nothing that you can do at this point (it’s too late to send him down) besides stick with him… if he can’t prove himself over the next 2-3 weeks, you have to go with Myers/Bullpen by Committee.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I think that Wheeler is hands-down the best one in the broadcast booth.. I dont care that he didn’t play .. he knows the game, because he has studied it

    Hamels was not sharp because he threw 724.1 innings last year… it was an increase of like 40% over his previous career high .. so you knew that his arm was going to be dead at time this year

    But he couldn’t have gone out and said that because he would have had to deal with questions like ..”So you can’t pitch deep into the postseason this year?” … “What if the phillies make the postseason again this year, how will that effect you in 2010?”

    So instead, he placed the blame squarely on himself, saying that he needed to refocus.. which allowed the media to give him space.. and allowed him time to get his arm back

    It was a calculated move on his part.. and it worked to a degree..

    He’ll be fine come playoff time..

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I was kind of surprised that Hamels came out to start the 8th….but he only had something like 6 or 7 (??) pitches in the 7th so it sort of made sense. I think that was good for his confidence as well…..being able to pitch that deep into a game…something he hasn’t done in awhile.

  • Posts: 0 DAVE

    I find that hard to believe.

    If he was so good at playing the media/public perception game, I doubt he would be on 10 different commercials right now, all of which are bad. I think he did a great job last year, and it went to his head.

    It’s easy to fall into when you have everyone telling you how awesome you are. Usually, there are more guys on a championship defending team who fall into this complacency. It seems like COle is one of the few it really affected, it just sucks that he’s our ace.

    I completely recognize that the innings/dead arm theory holds some weight here. Physically, that is what has been different. But part of it has been psychological too. Like when he’s not going well I always see the look on his face like “Dude, I’m Cole f-in Hamels, this doesn’t happen to me, brah. I should call Ochocinco and Jameer and that tool with the fleece pullover so they can remind me I’m awesome.”

  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    I’m going to the Reading game tonight, think Stutes is starting, he had a pretty good outing the last time, don’t imagine I’ll see Myers pitch at all, but I guess he’ll be there strutting his stuff. One thing about pitch velocity at Reading, there is buzz that their radar gun is calabrated a bit high. Flande, I think it was, had pitches consistently in the 95+ range when I was there, as well as several other pitchers, because I remember mentioning more than once (with surprise) the high mph.

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Don M and Chuck, you’re absolutey right that “Wheels” is very knowledgeable about the game and his comments has more revelancy than his co-workers in the booth. After all, he’s been around the game and close with players and coaches for over 40 years.

    It irritates me to no end to listen to Tom and Sarge when they are together. They spend more time telling unfunny stories or about themselves than calling the game on the field.

  • Posts: 0 Dave

    DAVE I also remember him saying (earlier in the year) that if the Phillies didn’t make the postseason, it would be his fault. I’d say his problem this year isn’t as much not trying hard as it is trying too hard.

    We’ve been hearing that Lidge is just about to turn it around, that his last couple innings looked good, that he’s got that “wicked slider” for most of the season. How is this particular time different that the last couple times?
    I’d say that Charlie uses this last part of the season to figure out who can close, because last year notwithstanding, it obviously isn’t Brad right now.

  • Posts: 0 JD

    I am behind Lidge all the way I hope he gets it figured out down the stretch. We would not have had that season last year if not for him. I think he was looking good not great against the Muts. I did not agree with the decision for the 4th game in a row. He was starting to get into a grove before that night. Besides we will not see Myers until the rosters expand next week.
    @ Chuck P they may have rushed him back right or wrong but look at what was happening at that point Madson was blowing saves like crazy.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    First of all, Cole Hamels isn’t our ace anymore….Cliff Lee is.

    Secondly, I really don’t think that because he won the WS MVP last year that it “went to his head.” Hamels puts a lot of pressure on himself to do well because he HAS had success and because he HAS so much potential. He knows that and takes responsibility for who and what he is.

    For a 25 year old that has had success in this league Hamels actually has a pretty good head on his shoulders. He’s gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

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